Strawberry and Coconut Vegan Cupcakes

StrawberryCoconutCupcake

My kids have pretty strong opinions about cake.

This should come as no surprise really, given the amount of cake that is often being whipped up and going out of our kitchen. Always eager ‘helpers’, they often come up with their own combinations and drawings to articulate exactly what they mean. There were some pretty fancy numbers being dreamt up this year, let me tell you.

Speculation was rife as to what kind of cake everyone was going to have for their birthday. Some prefer tradition, whilst others have constantly evolving ideas throughout the year; the anticipation was huge.

Finally, after the usual intense brainstorming of ideas, it was decided that strawberry cupcakes with raspberry icing would suffice. But only if they were in the style of a fairy garden. Vision AND flavour, you see what I mean.

No worries, strawberry and raspberry, a berry-licious combination, as Strawberry Shortcake would say. The only challenge now, to make one that all our kinder friends can eat. Nut free, dairy free, egg free.

I got my substituting brain on, and remembered a birthday cake from my own childhood. A strawberry and coconut cake, which we baked in a heart shaped tin. Inspiration drawn, I got a-baking.

Strawberry and Coconut Vegan Cupcakes

(nut free, dairy free, egg free)
  • 120g spelt flour
  • 140g raw sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 40g coconut butter (not coconut oil), the more fragrant the better
  • 120ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • egg replacer to the equivalent of 1 egg
  • 100g chopped strawberries

Put out all of your ingredients, and allow them to come to room temperature. Cross fingers for a day that is not too cold so your coconut butter will be soft and pliable (please use coconut butter versus coconut oil. The butter is made with the whole coconut flesh, not just the pressed out oil, this gives it a much more voluptuous consistency as well as maximum tropical flavour! My favourite by far is Niugini Organics; they work with local communities in PNG to produce their coconut butter, so not only is it totally delicious, it’s good for karma points too.)

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with some pretty cases.

Measure out your flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and coconut butter into the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on slow until the mixture looks uniformly sandy, without any large lumps and bumps.

Pour in the coconut milk and the splash of vanilla, and mix until well combined. Add your constituted egg replacer and give it a spin on medium speed until everything is nice and smooth.

Stir in your chopped strawberries, or if they are a bit on the cold side, drop them directly into the cupcake cases (so you don’t give that coconut butter a cold shock!)

Divide the mixture amongst the cupcake cases, it will be runny but don’t worry! These cupcakes turn out sweet, delicious and fragrant and not at all dry (if someone knows a better word than ‘moist’, then please, let me know).

Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. My cupcakes didn’t go very brown, I think this is to do with using coconut butter rather than normal butter, so don’t rely on ‘golden brown’ being your indicator for the cupcakes being done!

Let the cupcakes cool down a touch before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Now, I wish I could give you a super awesome dairy-free and delicious frosting recipe. Unfortunately I can’t. I did experiment using coconut butter, icing sugar and fresh raspberries to create a super yummy and good for you frosting, and…. it was an epic fail. It went straight to the chickens. So instead I had to default and use a standard frosting recipe, just substituting dairy-free spread (I used Nuttelex) and coconut milk instead of cow’s. A dash of raspberry oil (from some macaron-ing days) added the required raspberry element. I would have way rather used fresh raspberries, but after one botched attempt, I just needed to get these babies done. I’ll put conquering that frosting recipe on the to-do list, and if you have an awesome dairy-free frosting that doesn’t use vegetable oils, then please let me know!!

Oh, and decorate to your heart’s content xx

StrawberryCoconutCupcakeBite

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Coconut Berry Loaf Cake

coconut-loaf-above

The past few weeks I have been having an existential crisis of sorts… a baking related existential crisis. There are definitely worse things than baking crises. But things have been on my mind, none the less.

My particular deliberation is basically this. I love to bake. For sure. It is a space where my creativity is in flow, and also a platform from which I can nurture others. And on the other hand, I have recently made the decision to go sugar free for a while. I have Type 1 diabetes, an auto immune disease (gosh, I really don’t even like labelling it as that) and have been reading the buzz lately about others reversing their various forms of auto immune by going sugar free. I just want to say, I am not recommending any of these changes to anybody else, in fact my doctors are pretty much dead set against the whole idea of going sugar free (somewhat ironic, no?) but tired of merely managing my condition, I’m seeing what I can do to help support and heal my body.

So, how to marry these two ends of the spectrum? Sugar free yet love to bake. Oh, and the fact that I have a small business making delicious sugary cakes for other people?!

If you’ve visited here before, you will notice that many of the recipes I post tend towards the wholefoods side of things. I like creating and eating food that is delicious and full of nutrients. I want to have my cake, and get some additional goodness from it too. Goodness for the soul and for the body, if you like. And with a beautiful little girl by my side who has a definite sweet tooth, I want to make sure I can get as much good nutrition into her as well, whilst still giving her something she will want to eat for afternoon tea.

I will continue to make special treat cakes for others who are having celebrations, but have decided that I also need to work on a range of sugar free and wholefoods cakes that also taste delicious and look beautiful, so that people who have these different wants and needs can be catered for. And I guess I will also allow some room in my life for the freedom to have some treat cake when the time is right. But amazingly, having been sugar free for about 7 weeks now, I am not wanting it so much.

Anyway, my beautiful girl is totally in love with coconut at the moment, so here is a quick after kinder treat we whipped up. Low sugar, low fructose, high in protein and pretty darn delicious.

Coconut Berry Loaf Cake

Coconut-berry-cake

  • 200 g wholemeal spelt
  • 100 g coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
  • 100 g butter, melted
  • scant 1/3 cup stevia (I use a one for one stevia which is mixed with erythritol to make it measure as you would for sugar, however, if you use pure stevia please put this in to taste as a drop of the pure stuff goes a long way!)
  • 1/3 cup rice syrup
  • 400 ml buttermilk
  • 120 g berries
  • handful of coconut flakes

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper. In a medium bowl, combine the  spelt flour, coconut flour, baking powder, vanilla powder and stevia and give a good stir.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, then add in the rice syrup and warm until just loosened. Pour the butter and rice syrup into the flour mixture and stir.

Stir through your buttermilk; the coconut flour is very dry and will absorb lots of moisture, it will make a fairly firm batter.

berries

Pour your mixture into your loaf tin, and push in the berries however you feel. Try not to eat them all along the way.

coconut-loaf-ready-to-bake

Top with a sprinkle of coconut flakes. Place towards the bottom of the oven, to stop the coconut flakes from burning, and bake for 60 – 65 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.

This is a subtly sweet, rustic style cake, very comforting and delicious with the pop of soft juicy berries. It is delicious eaten warm as is, or would also be good served with some orange or vanilla scented ricotta.  It keeps well in an airtight container for up to 4 days, although we gobbled ours all up long before then.

Coconut-berry-loaf-cake

strawberry + rhubarb crumble muffins, a recipe made for mixing it up

rhubarb

Are you a list writer? Or more of a free spirit, able to roll through life and summon the gods of ‘winging it’?

I confess, I am a bit of a list writer. Believe me, I often wish it weren’t so. But writing things down helps clear my mind for other, more fun things. Otherwise I am constantly reciting the things I need to do, hoping not to forget anything. Pen and paper help me out with that. But when it comes to food, that’s where my hidden free spirit is really allowed to shine.

StrawberryRhubarb

Yes, this may mean that I am always without one thing we really need, but hey, this just inspires extra creativity, right? When it comes to savoury food, I hardly ever have a plan when I start to cook. An idea, yes, but rarely an end. Maybe this is why I find it hard to ever cook a recipe as it is written, and why it is even harder for me to write one, because I usually end up throwing in a bit of this and a pinch of that, never really measuring, just going with the flow… anyway, here is a recipe just for the likes of me, where you can add whichever fruit takes your fancy and it will always turn out super delish.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble Muffins customised from Classic Earth Market muffins found in Wholefood Baking by Jude Blereau

CookedMuffin

  • 1 quantity cinnamon and nut crumble topping
  • 400g fruit of your choice, chopped into good-sized chunks
  • 130g white spelt flour
  • 145g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 75g rapadura sugar or raw sugar
  • 125ml milk
  • 125ml buttermilk, kefir milk or yoghurt
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled a little

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Place paper cases into a 12 hole muffin tin.

For the dry mix, place the flours, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and give it a good whisk, breaking up any lumps. Add your chopped up fruit (keep it chunky so you get good fruity bits in your cooked muffin) and stir gently, giving the fruit a light coating so it doesn’t clump together. I used rhubarb and strawberries as they were calling my name, but here is where you get to make it your own! Choose whichever fruit is calling to you, bananas, berries, plums, figs… you get the idea, it’ll all be good. If your fruit is on the fragile side, we’ll add it later so it doesn’t get smooshed.

For the wet mix, place equal amounts of the two milks in a measuring cup to make 185ml. Add in the egg, vanilla and cooled, melted butter and whisk together.

Fold together the wet and the dry mixes gently, until just combined. Here is where you add that extra milk if you feel you need to. And if your fruit is fragile you can fold it in now too.

MuffinMix

For the topping combine 70g raw nuts (I used walnuts), 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut and 2 tablespoons rapadura sugar in a bowl. Please, please make the topping!! It makes these muffins a bit more special, and adds great texture. Trust me, do it!

Spoon the muffin batter into your cases, and sprinkle generously with the crumble topping.

ReadyForOven

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven, cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and cool on wire racks.

I must confess I didn’t have any wholemeal spelt, so I used only white spelt, and substituted in 40g hazelnut meal which I did have hanging around. Yes, I can never play it straight when it comes to cooking.

TrayBaked

And when you think they are just cool enough to eat, make yourself a cup of tea, call the kids into the kitchen and enjoy a quiet moment of freshly baked goodness.

These muffins aren’t super sweet, but they are beautifully light and pretty delicious. And as per usual when it comes to muffins, eat them as soon as you can! The same day is best, but if it is the following day, give them a gentle warm in the oven and they will breathe life anew. Enjoy.

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coco-nutty toasted muesli

mueslibowl

I love a good muesli. I really do. It’s my go to breakfast for the everyday, and stolen spoonful is my quick and easy snack if I need a bit of boost or am craving some crunch. Did you know how easy it is to make your own? Super easy. Come on, let’s do this!

Here is what you will need to make a lovely big batch of  muesli (this amount lasts us about a week and a half, with two people eating it for breakfast every morning and a few snacks in between)

  • 700 g rolled oats
  • 150 g coconut flakes
  • 200g raw nuts
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup rice syrup
  • 120 g dried fruit
  • 60 g chia seeds
  • 200g buckinis

almondsandmacadamias

First off, pick your favourite nuts. Make sure they are raw, or if you’re feeling special, try activated. These babies are going to toast themselves in the oven, so don’t use already toasted ones or you’ll end up with some sad little nut buddies. Today I was in an almond and macadamia kind of a mood, cashews are another fave, and if you’re feeling fancy go with hazels… pop anything in and I swear it’s going to be good. If you love seeds, throw them in too (I usually do), sesame is awesome as well as sunflowers and pepitas. Go on, pretend you run your own health foods shop and you’re showing off your range. This muesli is all about you, customise!

ingredients

Give those nuts a bit of a chop, rough is good. Add them to a big bowl along with some rolled oats and some coconut flakes (these are a must for me, they add super awesome toasty crunch). In, out, mix it all about.

syrup

Next, measure out your maple and rice syrups and your coconut oil. Put your syrups and oil into a small saucepan and heat them gently, just until the coconut oil has melted.

mueslimix

Pour your syrupy mix into the oaty mix and give it a good, hearty stir. Make sure you scrape the bottom where there are usually some uncoated oats hiding, cheeky things.

tray

Spread your beautiful sticky mix onto two baking trays, and pop them into a 160 degree C fan forced oven. No fan, then up the temp to 180 degrees or so. Bake your muesli for 25 – 30 mins, stirring it around every 8 – 10 minutes. I want you to stay within smelling range of your oven, any hint of burning and dive in there and give it a good flip about. Toast until it is beautifully golden, like your muesli has had a summer holiday backpacking around Europe. It might still seem a bit sticky when you take it out, but as long as it is a deliciously tanned, it will crunch up nicely once it is cooled. Let it cool on your trays for a couple of minutes, then tip it into a big bowl ready for some further customisation. If it cools completely on the trays it’s no big deal, but it can make a big oaty mess as you try to tip it into a bowl once it has already cooled and crisped up.

toastedmuesli

Voila, roasty toasty muesli goodness! But hold your horsies, we’re not quite there yet. Once your muesli has cooled down, stir through your favourite dried fruit, today my choice is cranberries and white mulberries. I also totally love buckinis, so I add some of them too, and some chia seeds for a good omega boost. Yum, yum.

jarofmuesli

Look at you, aren’t you cool… you’ve just made your own muesli! Know what’s great? Your muesli is super fresh with no stale ingredients, it’s better for you with the coconut oil & natural syrup combo and you’ve made it just how you like it. And next time you make it, try a new combo, keep life interesting. I love to eat mine sprinkled on natural yoghurt with a serious scoop of acai powder, some bee pollen and a sprinkle of hemp seeds.

a birthday is always a good place to start.

finished

There’s nothing more fun and creative for me than baking, and when you’re making one of your best friend’s birthday cakes, it’s even better. I have this running deal with one of my best friends; because we are the bakers in our families, we make each other a birthday cake each year (because everyone knows, you can’t make your own birthday cake). This year’s effort was taken from ‘Babycakes Covers the Classics’, with a few filling twists of my own (I can’t ever leave a recipe just be!). I took Erin’s classic German Chocolate Cake, and layered it up with organic rainbow raspberry jam (my kid’s favourite because of it is made from three colours of raspberries), coconut frosting and coconut flakes.

1layer

Admittedly, the frosting is definitely not (!) vegan, I just couldn’t grab those ingredients at that moment in time, but next time I make one I will give a vegan frosting recipe a go.

coconut

Thanks to little hands who are always eager to help. And according to my kids, licking the bowl is still the best bit.

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Happy birthday P, you’re one special lady.